Skateboarding got its start and gained fast popularity on the West Coast, but that doesn’t mean those are the only good places to go. Although several of the best cities for skateboarding are in California, there are also cities all over the U.S. that are worthy of a skate trip.
Thus, we come to the million-dollar question: where is skateboarding most popular in the U.S.? Moreso, where are the best places to skateboard, for both street and park skating, and to find the best skate culture?
It might sound like a tall order, but it’s not impossible. In fact, there are dozens of cities that stand out among the best for skateboarding, and they all have something unique to offer. In this guide, we’ll go over the top places to check out, as well as how to plan your own skate trip, what the difference is between East and West Coast skaters, and so much more.
By the time we’re finished, you’ll be chomping at the bit to get your board, pack your bag, and hop the next flight to the city you’ve decided to check out first.
That’s right: first. We say that because once you see all the great cities to explore, you’ll likely decide to make a journey of it, visiting as many cities as you can in your lifetime. You can check out a few at a time or visit one per vacation or getaway.
You can even hit up the ones within driving distance first while you’re saving money for the destinations that are further away. Most importantly, you’ll find a lot more great skateboarding than you think in cities all over the U.S.
Let’s dig right in.
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Planning Your Skate Trip: Cities to See
When planning your trip, you’ll want to decide which direction to head first. Granted, you can hit a lot more cities if you go somewhere like California, but if you have your heart set on another destination, there’s a lot to see out there.
Here are some of the top cities that have a skate scene worthy of your attention.
San Francisco is one of the most popular cities for skateboarding in the world, let alone in the U.S. This big city offers a lot of iconic spots for street skaters and park skaters alike. You’ll find plenty of modern skating destinations along with classic street spots, and the city is full of rich skate history that’s come through over the years. San Fran is home to Thrasher Magazine and more skaters per square meter than any other city in the world. They’ve got the tram tracks, terrifying hills, and the beautiful burritos of the Mission District to keep you fueled.
Head to the China Banks, Wallenberg, Embarcadero Center, and the beautiful Fort Miley for some of the best skating in the city.
Of course, Los Angeles is another city that makes the list. Some of the most famous skateboarders in the world come from this city and its outlying suburbs, and there are plenty of great places to skate. From parks to parking lots and even converted spaces, you’ll find plenty of plywood, pavement, and painted surfaces for you to put your wheels down and explore the town. Consider checking out parks and spots like J-Kwon, but be careful street skating because that’s becoming increasingly difficult. LA is where it all started– it should definitely be on your list of the best skate cities to check out.
While you’re here, also check out Green Ledges, Hollywood High, and the LA Courthouse Ledges.
If you’re looking for a getaway during the summer months, Barcelona is a must-see. From the perfect weather to the beautiful city streets, you’ll find plenty of great things to love when you skate here. Plus, the city is rich in its own skate history and has some legendary spots that are definitely worth a look. Barcelona has been called a “heaven for skateboarders” and it offers some of the most perfect weather for skating, some great skate parks, and plenty of modern skateboarding legends who visit the city regularly to shred their own lines.
China is one of the fastest-growing countries, which makes it a great place for up-and-coming trends like skateboarding, too. In the mid-2000s, skaters and companies finally started heading to Asia and the country has quickly become a hotspot for skating in the short time it’s been around. This city is full of impressive handrails, marble plazas, and plenty of great skate spots worthy of a visit. Rumor has it that some of the street skating is even better than the stuff you find in parks around the world.
Berlin is another must-see destination in Europe for those who are serious about skating. This diverse city offers a lot of great spots for skating and there are plenty of skate cultures here that mix and mingle to create a unique community. There are plenty of unique spots to check out and like most cities, you’ll just have to be mindful of your street skating so you don’t break any laws or ordinances. You’ll find plenty of legendary spots to check out here.
For those who want to try their hand at skating in the land down under, Melbourne is the place to be. It’s got a great city layout, along with 20 skateparks that are within a 10-mile radius. There are also two outdoor vert ramps and that makes Melbourne one of the best skate cities today, including Southern California and South America, two big spots known for skating. It is the coolest city in Australia and it offers a lot in the way of skating for people from all backgrounds and skate cultures.
New York City
We couldn’t make an article about the best cities to skate in without mentioning NYC. While Lower Manhattan is typically where people are found skating, the rest of the city is becoming a place worthy of checking out, too. The city never sleeps, making it popular for those who like skating at night and they have all kinds of independent brands and shops making a name for themselves. There isn’t as much to find in the way of East Coast skateboarding, but New York City makes the list here.
Check out Tompkins Square, Union Square, Black Hubba, and the Brooklyn Banks while you’re here, but know the last one is no longer skateable. Other places include Bryant Park, Chinatown, and Battery Park.
We’re going back across the pond for this one. If you can deal with the dreary rain, London has a lot of great skate spots worth checking out. There are plenty of street spots for skating and there are also skate parks all over the place. Some are old, some are modern, but they all offer plenty of great skating opportunities.
London has a lot of public areas that are easier to skate in than in other cities, but you still have to be careful in some public spaces. If all else fails, head to South Bank, which is one of the most popular spots in the city.
How to Find the Best Skate Spots
Everyone is going to have a different idea of what they want out of a skate excursion, but the scene is definitely going to impact your choice. Consider whether you’re looking for skateparks and the cities that have the best ones, or the best street skating available in cities throughout the U.S. — those are two completely different lists.
Here are a few things to keep in mind so that you have an easier time finding the best places to skate, whether you’re looking for parks or street skating. There’s something for everyone to choose from out there, but keep the following considerations in mind.
First and foremost, the last thing you want to do is wind up getting in trouble for skating somewhere. Make sure before you put your board down that you’re allowed to skate in the public areas throughout the cities that you visit. If you’re not sure, ask.
Usually, you’ll get off with a warning the first time, but as a respectful skater, it’s better to know where you are and aren’t allowed to begin with.
Granted, this isn’t as big of a problem in skate parks as it is with skating on city streets, but it’s still important to consider.
If you’re looking for skate history, make that first on your list. All the cities that we listed above are great places to find historic landmarks that you can check out, although some have more than others.
If you really want history, head to LA because that’s the beginning of it all.
Some of the cities on the list have unique skate spots, including some that just exist as well as some that were created or built specifically for skating. You can even research the most unique skate destinations around the country (or the world) to ensure that you’re only visiting the coolest parks or cities.
Just look for fun, funky spots worth checking out. Watch YouTube videos and check out reviews to make sure the places deliver on the “unique” factor.
If you like park skating as opposed to street skating, consider the cities that have the best skate parks. Those include the likes of:
- Portland, Oregon
- Los Angeles, California
- Orange, California
- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Atlantic Beach, Florida
- Denver, Colorado
Protip: Oregon has the most skateparks of any state in the U.S., so if you’re looking for quantity, that’s a good place to start.
Best Street Skateboarding
Perhaps you’re looking for the best street skating instead of parks. That’s an option, too, and you can narrow your search by considering the best street spots around. For one, stay away from cities that frown on skateboarding because there are less likely to be free spaces to check out on the streets.
Cities like LA are great for street skating, as are NYC, Melbourne, and plenty of other cities around the world. Just find the ones that suit your tastes.
The Growing Skate Scene
Since skateboarding hit the big time in the 1980s, it’s only continued to grow and evolve. Now we’ve got popular events like the X-Games and skaters around the world who vie for the best tricks, best awards, and smoothest rides to give them eternal bragging rights.
For the newbie or average skater, that means there are plenty of places to skate, and plenty more to come in the future. As long as boarding is a popular hobby, skateboarders are going to be working to build parks, improve their cities, and more.
Not only do they want to attract people, but they want to enjoy the skating themselves. Thus, you’ll find no shortage of places to enjoy great skating, including all of the cities listed above.
East Coast vs. West Coast Skateboarding: What’s the Difference?
In some sports and hobbies, there’s a huge difference in styles, trends, or even just the basic way things are done from one location to another, and especially when comparing the coasts. Where New York loves acting and the bright lights of Broadway, L.A. prefers the glitz and glam of the celebrity lifestyle in a city where it’s hard to tell who’s real and who’s just acting.
Is there a difference in skate culture or skate parks in the various cities across the coasts? To some degree, yes. Riders have different styles, different skating preferences, and maybe even different location preferences. For example, skateboarders in Texas and Florida are more likely to have indoor parks to save them from the sweltering heat.
You’ll find all kinds of variables and variances in the skate styles and the way things are done from one coast to the other and even around the world, but the fact of the matter is that skaters are skaters. No matter where you go, you’ll be welcomed with open arms and have no trouble finding all the best places to skate in cities around the world.
Get Out There and Skate Your Way Across the Country (Or Around the World)
Whether you’re planning a big trip or just making a bucket list of all the places that you need to see with your skateboard, any of these cities will deliver everything that you want and more. Do your homework, plan accordingly, and you’ll be able to explore some of the best skate spots the world has to offer.
From Los Angeles to China, to Melbourne, and even South America, there are tons of skate spots worthy of a visit. Grab your board, pack your bags, and get going!